Radioshack 800MHz antenna 1/4 or 1/2 wave

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Hello I wanted to know if this antenna is a 1/4 wave or 1/2 wave antenna. I have two of them and dont if it is either one of them. Could someone give me there reviews on how there antenna worked on 800MHz systems compared to other 800MHz antennas. I already looked at Radioshacks stie for reviews. I wanted the RR community reviews.

Here is the link:http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2102525&filterName=Type&filterValue=Scanner/HAM#pr-header-back-to-top-link.

Thank you
 
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davenlr

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You didnt link a picture or link, so its hard to tell. Ive not seen any half wave antennas at radio shack for scanners. It the antenna has simply a short little stub, its a 1/4 wave. If it has a short piece, coil, and then a longer piece, its probably a 5/8 wave.
 

br0adband

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Pretty sure the OP means the all-too-popular Radio Shack 800 MHz antenna that's fantastic in my experience and I know from the sheer number of times it gets mentioned that it's pretty much a mainstay antenna for scanner enthusiasts, right up there with the Diamond RHC77A (or SRHC77A, the SMA version). I bought one of the RS 800 MHz antennas when they first came out and it made an instant and dramatic difference on the system I was attempting to monitor, and to this day it's still the best 800 MHz specific antenna I've ever used personally (of the nearly dozen other models from a variety of manufacturers that I've tried, including the Seeker 800 which didn't do nearly as well as the RS 800 in my own testing).

There are a lot of imitators out there on eBay and other places, but I'd say get the real deal if you're going to buy one so there's no question of what you're getting. Only downside is the price nowadays: it really pisses me off that the cost went from $14.95 when it was first introduced a long time ago to the $24.99 they're charging nowadays for the same antenna. Stuff is supposed to come down in price after years of manufacturing, not go up. ;)

And yes, it's a 1/4 wave element inside the housing. There are literally dozens of threads here discussing the RS 800 MHz, a search will turn them up pretty quickly so you can see the opinions of many other people about it. It actually works fairly well (for me, that is) in the VHF-Hi and UHF bands, as well as 900 MHz too.
 
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Pretty sure the OP means the all-too-popular Radio Shack 800 MHz antenna that's fantastic in my experience and I know from the sheer number of times it gets mentioned that it's pretty much a mainstay antenna for scanner enthusiasts, right up there with the Diamond RHC77A (or SRHC77A, the SMA version). I bought one of the RS 800 MHz antennas when they first came out and it made an instant and dramatic difference on the system I was attempting to monitor, and to this day it's still the best 800 MHz specific antenna I've ever used personally (of the nearly dozen other models from a variety of manufacturers that I've tried, including the Seeker 800 which didn't do nearly as well as the RS 800 in my own testing).

There are a lot of imitators out there on eBay and other places, but I'd say get the real deal if you're going to buy one so there's no question of what you're getting. Only downside is the price nowadays: it really pisses me off that the cost went from $14.95 when it was first introduced a long time ago to the $24.99 they're charging nowadays for the same antenna. Stuff is supposed to come down in price after years of manufacturing, not go up. ;)

And yes, it's a 1/4 wave element inside the housing. There are literally dozens of threads here discussing the RS 800 MHz, a search will turn them up pretty quickly so you can see the opinions of many other people about it. It actually works fairly well (for me, that is) in the VHF-Hi and UHF bands, as well as 900 MHz too.
Compared to the Laird 800MHz 1/2 wave which do you like better if you tried the Laird 800MHz antennas before.
 

br0adband

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Compared to the Laird 800MHz 1/2 wave which do you like better if you tried the Laird 800MHz antennas before.
I don't know which Laird 800 MHz you're speaking of (as they make a few, but none for handheld scanner mounts that I'm aware of) so I can't speak for any potential usage there. I will say that of the roughly 14 different 800 MHz-specific antennas I've used, including one or two from Motorola that were taken from their commercial public safety 800 MHz handhelds directly as well as a few other brands, the RS 800 MHz still outperformed them all but again I have to state that's in my direct first-hand experience myself.

The AES location here in Las Vegas (aesham.com) has a little 'flea market' of sorts on the first Saturday morning of each month and I've stopped by a few times over the years, found some locals there that were into scanning far more heavily than I am and I was able to check out a variety of 800 MHz antennas for handheld use. That's where I first tried the Seeker 800 which touts itself as the very best 800 MHz 'duckie' for handhelds on the planet, but I wasn't impressed - in the same exact spot on the same exact scanner (was a Uniden BR330T that I owned at the time) signal strength on the same control channels was 1-2 bars higher with the RS 800, so I laughed about it and asked him how much he spent on the Seeker 800 and he said "Too much..." and that was that. :)

The only way to really know will be to get some antennas yourself (seems you already have the RS 800) and do testing in your given situation(s) and see which one performs the best for you, but that's par for the course as the saying goes.
 
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This is the antenna I am talking about:Laird Technologies EXE-806-BNX 800-866 Portable Antenna BNC, 8" | TESSCO. The ones you took from the Motorola radios were they an SMA connecter? I have two 1/4 wave 800MHz Laird antennas. I also have two RS 800 antennas. I have 5 UHF antennas and compared it to this antenna on the UHF band. I know it is two different bands but the Laird antennas outperformed the RS 800 on UHF.
 

br0adband

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The ones from Motorola radios used SMA and I used a converter to BNC at that time. Never knew Laird made a "duckie" for 800, looks nice but I can't imagine it'll outperform the RS 800 to such a degree that I'd be willing to fork over another chunk of cash just to get one - the RS 800 works for me, but I'm located in a centralized location in the Las Vegas valley which means I'm in what you might consider to be a signal-intense area. We're surrounded by mountains on all sides and there are multiple transmitter sites peppered on those mountains for dozens of agencies so weak signals aren't usually an issue for me on the 800 MHz systems. I do have some weak reception for another big 800 MHz system, the one used for State police and other State related comms but I don't spend much time monitoring that at all, just not content I care about.

Currently I just use my 1/4 wave ground plane I made from coat hangers and an SO-239 chassis mount jack cut for 150 MHz for everything and I mean everything from 115 to 940 MHz and it works surprisingly well - I haven't even bothered to add the parasitic elements for 450 and 800 either, go figure. I'm sure I could improve things somewhat but since I can't get it mounted outside it's not a concern I suppose - it was basically $1.50 to build it and it works great across the entire range, but again I'm centralized so I rarely miss much.

I might build an 855 MHz 1/4 wave ground plane today just for the hell of it, only takes a few minutes to do and I've got some #12 copper house wiring here to do it with, might perform better (at least it should), might not but that's the fun of experimentation. ;)
 
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The ones from Motorola radios used SMA and I used a converter to BNC at that time. Never knew Laird made a "duckie" for 800, looks nice but I can't imagine it'll outperform the RS 800 to such a degree that I'd be willing to fork over another chunk of cash just to get one - the RS 800 works for me, but I'm located in a centralized location in the Las Vegas valley which means I'm in what you might consider to be a signal-intense area. We're surrounded by mountains on all sides and there are multiple transmitter sites peppered on those mountains for dozens of agencies so weak signals aren't usually an issue for me on the 800 MHz systems. I do have some weak reception for another big 800 MHz system, the one used for State police and other State related comms but I don't spend much time monitoring that at all, just not content I care about.

Currently I just use my 1/4 wave ground plane I made from coat hangers and an SO-239 chassis mount jack cut for 150 MHz for everything and I mean everything from 115 to 940 MHz and it works surprisingly well - I haven't even bothered to add the parasitic elements for 450 and 800 either, go figure. I'm sure I could improve things somewhat but since I can't get it mounted outside it's not a concern I suppose - it was basically $1.50 to build it and it works great across the entire range, but again I'm centralized so I rarely miss much.

I might build an 855 MHz 1/4 wave ground plane today just for the hell of it, only takes a few minutes to do and I've got some #12 copper house wiring here to do it with, might perform better (at least it should), might not but that's the fun of experimentation. ;)

Is there dircetions for the coat hanger antenna on how to make it. It is cool that you build your own antennas. I dont know anything about building antennas I just buy them.
 

br0adband

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http://www.qsl.net/n4yek/scanner/antenna.pdf

It's just that simple, seriously. You can cut it to proper lengths if you want to make one that's not designed directly for 150 MHz (the basic design), but they're so cheap to make it won't hurt to make a few of them, one for each particular band you might be interested in - only takes a few seconds to unscrew one from the PL-259 connector (on the end of some coax, of course). You just need the SO-239 chassis mount jack and wire or coat hangers, some people have used brazing rods (welding stuff) and those work fine too. You don't necessarily have to add those 450 and 800 MHz parasitic elements but I suppose if it's made according to the design it can't hurt.

I have a 19" main element and 20" ground planes bent to about 45 degrees downward and it picks up everything just fine for me. That Laird 800 MHz may work better than the RS 800 in low signal strength areas, I can't say for sure, so maybe it'll be a good choice for you. Personally I'd say make yourself a 1/4 wave ground plane cut to 855 MHz (the center of the 800 MHz public safety band now because of rebanding) and the main element would be 3.3 inches long - the ground planes make those about 3.5 inches long (base frequency + ~5%) and you should get decent reception on those frequencies in just a few minutes time as long as you have the proper parts and cabling to get it built and attached to your scanner.

Works for me very well and was practically nothing in terms of actual out of pocket cost.

<hint: mine isn't even soldered at all, it's held together just by the screws/nuts and the main element is just inserted into the top of the SO-239 jack. I actually have several elements - one for 150, 450, 855, and 937-ish - that I swap out from time to time just to get a more band-centered antenna for testing purposes - it's not absolutely necessary to do the soldering but it sure can't hurt, even the PL-239 on the coax isn't soldered, it's a screw on with a screw on BNC on the end attached to the pigtail I have plugged into my RTL stick> :D
 

br0adband

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Thats neat thank you for telling me on how to do it. I was wondering on my orginal post because one is a commerical antenna and one is a consumer antenna.
Honestly I don't find much difference between commercial and consumer class antennas save for the build quality, I suppose. And of course the (more often than not) significant price increases for something that's "commercial" - I'm not saying they're not higher quality in terms of build and materials, my meaning is that typically an antenna is an antenna for the most part. A half-wave should outperform a 1/4 wave in most situations, but there's a big difference between a half-wave duckie and an actual 1/4 wave ground plane like one you can make in a few minutes with that chassis jack, a few screws and nuts, and a few inches of wire (given you can attach it to the scanner with a cable, that is).

Sure, there are a lot of nice antennas out there that I wouldn't mind owning, one in particular is that very nice military discone I've been keeping an eye on (pictured here but the price on that thing is utterly ridiculous in my opinion: $1700+ brand new, and whenever one happens to show up on eBay on rare occasions it still goes for $300+ most of the time, it's crazy but I suppose some folks think it's worth it.

I know I can build a similar one - actually planning to do one just like it but with 16 elements instead of 12 for better performance - based on the design and some of the size specifications posted by other owners of that particular one. Will it perform exactly the same? No, of course not, but then again it'll be built for a hell of a lot less money too. :)

But the 1/4 wave ground planes are very easy to make, I'm very happy with the one I've built and I intend to do it up right here at some point soon, with better hardware since these coat hangers still have the varnish finish on them (never bothered to sand or clean that off) - I'm probably losing at least 3 dB just from the lack of direct metal on metal contact and yet this thing STILL works great in my experience.

Can't hurt to give it a shot and make a few yourself, they're dirt cheap and they follow the basic antenna principles that are known to be effective.
 

br0adband

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Well, I didn't say that directly, and I didn't realize you'd mean to make use of one of these 1/4 wave ground plane antennas (based on that PDF I linked you to) as a "mobile" antenna meaning mounted on a moving vehicle or something. These 1/4 wave ground planes aren't meant to be mobile in that sense; I suppose you could have one inside a vehicle but if you tried to mount it externally you'd be better off with a 1/4 wave whip on some kind of mount that makes use of the vehicle body itself as the ground plane - that's how pretty much every mobile antenna on any vehicle ever made is designed to work.

If you were standing in an open field, and you had the scanner, and you tuned it to a particular frequency in the 800 MHz range using the Laird 1/2 wave duckie to get a reading from that setup, and then swapped out the Laird for a 1/4 wave ground plane tuned in the same range (meaning it has elements roughly 3.5" long - 1 main element and 4 ground plane elements bent at a 45 degree downward angle) you should get better signal reception from the 1/4 wave ground plane, that's what I'm saying.

Years ago there was some company (they may still exist) that actually made a 1/4 wave 800 MHz ground plane antenna for scanners using a BNC mount, a short "mast" a few inches long, and literally 4 elements in the same design mounted at the end of that short mast. I never did actually buy one but theoretically it should work just fine and better than any plain old 1/4 wave monopole or 1/2 wave monopole as well. Found a pic of the basic design:



Again, theoretically that should actually work pretty well but I've never owned one so I cannot say for sure if they do, I'm just going on my still rather limited knowledge and direct experience of dealing with ground plane-style antennas overall.

Make a few, buy a few, find what works best and there you go... I don't think there will ever be a "big difference" unless you're talking about putting in a very high gain Yagi designed for 800 MHz operation. With respect to monopoles, ground planes, and duckies, you're going to get fairly similar performance from them all since they're omnidirectional and nothing like a Yagi (or Log Periodic) for very high gain in a specific direction but that's another thread altogether. :D
 
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Thank you for clarifying it for me now I understand it. That is a uniquie antenna of the pic you posted. If I didnt live close to an airport I wanted to put up a UHF base antenna but I cant because of the airport.
 

Elpablo

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Anthony and others, I am currently trying out both the RS 7” 800 Mhz antenna and the Laird Technologies EXE-806-BNX 800-866 Portable Antenna with SMA on the Uniden 436. I have had both running back and forth for about a week now and I am no expert on antennas. I was hoping the Laird would perform at the same level as the RS because it looks better with SMA connector. But the RS has outperformed the Laird when monitoring San Diego City’s TRS (mostly analog) and San Diego County’s RCS (mixed). I am in small valley near the center of San Diego and can pull both systems on both antennas. It’s about a 20% improvement when I switch to the RS which continues to amaze me. This means better signal strength, less choppiness and less P25 errors. I do believe I am returning the Laird. Your mileage may vary but I do hope this info helps.
 
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Anthony and others, I am currently trying out both the RS 7” 800 Mhz antenna and the Laird Technologies EXE-806-BNX 800-866 Portable Antenna with SMA on the Uniden 436. I have had both running back and forth for about a week now and I am no expert on antennas. I was hoping the Laird would perform at the same level as the RS because it looks better with SMA connector. But the RS has outperformed the Laird when monitoring San Diego City’s TRS (mostly analog) and San Diego County’s RCS (mixed). I am in small valley near the center of San Diego and can pull both systems on both antennas. It’s about a 20% improvement when I switch to the RS which continues to amaze me. This means better signal strength, less choppiness and less P25 errors. I do believe I am returning the Laird. Your mileage may vary but I do hope this info helps.
I am surprized the Laird did not perform as well as the RS 800. Thank you also for the help.
 
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http://www.qsl.net/n4yek/scanner/antenna.pdf

It's just that simple, seriously. You can cut it to proper lengths if you want to make one that's not designed directly for 150 MHz (the basic design), but they're so cheap to make it won't hurt to make a few of them, one for each particular band you might be interested in - only takes a few seconds to unscrew one from the PL-259 connector (on the end of some coax, of course). You just need the SO-239 chassis mount jack and wire or coat hangers, some people have used brazing rods (welding stuff) and those work fine too. You don't necessarily have to add those 450 and 800 MHz parasitic elements but I suppose if it's made according to the design it can't hurt.

I have a 19" main element and 20" ground planes bent to about 45 degrees downward and it picks up everything just fine for me. That Laird 800 MHz may work better than the RS 800 in low signal strength areas, I can't say for sure, so maybe it'll be a good choice for you. Personally I'd say make yourself a 1/4 wave ground plane cut to 855 MHz (the center of the 800 MHz public safety band now because of rebanding) and the main element would be 3.3 inches long - the ground planes make those about 3.5 inches long (base frequency + ~5%) and you should get decent reception on those frequencies in just a few minutes time as long as you have the proper parts and cabling to get it built and attached to your scanner.

Works for me very well and was practically nothing in terms of actual out of pocket cost.

<hint: mine isn't even soldered at all, it's held together just by the screws/nuts and the main element is just inserted into the top of the SO-239 jack. I actually have several elements - one for 150, 450, 855, and 937-ish - that I swap out from time to time just to get a more band-centered antenna for testing purposes - it's not absolutely necessary to do the soldering but it sure can't hurt, even the PL-239 on the coax isn't soldered, it's a screw on with a screw on BNC on the end attached to the pigtail I have plugged into my RTL stick> :D
Is there dircetions for the coat hanger antenna on how to make it. It is cool that you build your own antennas. I dont know anything about building antennas I just buy them.
If I cant figure it out I will post it in the proprer fourm for help.
 

LIScanner101

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Does it hurt a 1/4 wave ground plane antenna if the ground plane elements arw longer than the vertical element? Say I make a VHF Hi antenna but want to swap out vertical elements tuned for UHF or 800MHz - do the ground plane elements have to match?
 

br0adband

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That's how I've been using the 1/4 wave ground plane I made from the SO-239 chassis jack and coat hangers, with main elements I swap out for the different bands, but earlier today I did finally make separate antennas so now I've got the original one cut for 150 MHz specifically, and now I have one cut for 460 MHz (main element is 6.1 inches long, the ground planes are 6.4 inches long) and another for 890 MHz (3.1 inch main element and 3.3 inches for the ground planes).

Why 890 MHz? Because the public safety comms in the 800 MHz range are from 851 to 861 (centered about 856 or so) and I also listen to content up in the 900 MHz business band which is from 935 to 940 (centered about 937) and I wanted to cover both to a degree with one antenna so... 851 on the low side, 940 on the high side means a range of 89-90 MHz, half of that at about 45 which added to 851 gives me around 895-ish and that's where the lengths came from when calculated for a 1/4 wave length.

Simple, eh?

Because of how I have things set up, it takes a few seconds to unscrew one of them from the PL-259 connector on my coax, attach another one and I'm good to go for monitoring. I suppose I could have just made the antenna to the design spec and added those parasitic elements but, so far by using dedicated antennas I am noticing that some signals that were previously scratchy to some degrees in their respective bands aren't quite so scratchy anymore and do show a slightly improved signal on the spectrum peaks.

Just more stuff to experiment with... ;)
 

LIScanner101

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Sounds like a great thing to experiment with ;)

I understand that from what you just posted you do indeed match the ground plane rods with the vertical element. But have you ever used long radials with shorter vertical elements at any time? If not, do you have any comment or opinion on how this would affect reception? Like I said earlier cutting the ground plane elements for the lowest band you expect to use, but just change the vertical element to match the band you want to listen to?
 
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